Junior Tennis Racquet Upgrade Guide
Ever wonder when your junior player should upgrade her racquet? You’re not alone! Having worked with juniors and touring professionals for the past 35 years, I’ve noted this challenge. So, I created this junior tennis racquet upgrade guide to help parents navigate this decision.
I often see one of four scenarios once a junior has moved up to their first adult-sized racquet.
- She plays recreationally – racquet lasts through high school.
- He plays seasonally (JTT and/or high school team) – eventually upgrades to a new frame.
- She is a serious tournament player – upgrades to a new frame every other year.
- He is a serious tournament player – upgrades to a new frame every year.
Out of the four scenarios above, #4, in most cases, should be the least likely. It’s not the best option, even if he’s receiving a player package from one of the racquet companies. (Or if parents can afford to buy 3 or 4 racquets each time he upgrades.)
Sometimes parents (and players) want to upgrade too soon. They base their decision on what the pros are using. In reality, for most serious junior tennis tournament players, upgrading their racquet should occur every other year. Option #3.
Upgrading to a heavier racquet shouldn’t be any different from buying new clothes as your child grows. It has to fit.
To put things in perspective, check out the Gear & Accessories page on my website to get a basic understanding.
4 Tips for Upgrading to a Heavier Frame
Assuming you take care of your racquets (avoid leaving them in the car), a frame should last a good 25 string jobs. Considering she has 3+ racquets, that would take about two years to rack up. Remember to replace the bumper guard when it becomes worn to prolong the life of the frame.
She experiences a growth spurt, is training regularly and is physically getting stronger.
Consider a denser string pattern (18×20) if he plays with a 16×18 or 16×19 string pattern. A denser string pattern offers more control and longer string life. But it does take more effort to produce spin and has a “boardier” feel.
Consider the weight and swingweight when upgrading to a new frame. A ½-ounce increase in weight is not usually noticeable if it’s in the grip/throat area. However, if the same amount of weight is in the head, the swingweight will increase and be noticeable.
Take a look at these pros’ frame specifications, compiled while stringing their racquets at a tournament. Notice at the bottom, a 10-year-old player that I switched to a more appropriate frame.
|Sam Querrey||Babolat Pure Aero+||11.6||N/A||3/8|
|Kayla Day||Babolat Pure Aero||11.3||308||1/8|
|Coco Vandeweghe||Yonex EZONE 98||11.2||312||1/2|
|Danielle Collins||Babolat Pure Aero||11.1||N/A||3/8|
|Angelique Kerber||Yonex VCORE 100||10.9||N/A||N/A|
|Nicole Gibbs||Wilson Clash 100||10.8||308||1/4|
|Taylor Fritz||Head Radical MP||10.5||N/A||1/2|
|10-year old player||Wilson Clash 100 |
TourPrince Tour 100L
A Pro’s “New” Racquet Can be Deceiving
It’s sometimes tempting to buy the latest and greatest racquets that come out each year when you see the pros on tour playing with them. But it’s essential to keep in mind that racquet companies sometimes simply change the cosmetics to market their product and entice the consumer to buy. Nothing has really changed.
In fact, many touring pros are extremely attached to their old frames and like it the way it is. Each frame is precisely customized to their preferred specifications. In some of these cases, racquet companies will take the player’s old frames, and custom paint them to look like the current new frame.
Keeping that in mind, there is one way your child CAN imitate the pros and come out on top. And that segues into Tip #5.
You can transition your child before upgrading to the next frame weight class. Just like the pros, I can customize her frame, “beefing it up” and altering the weight and swingweight. Sorry, no custom paint job, though.
If you’d like more information, feel free to contact me.